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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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Against The Tide (Episode 2)

The next day went on as usual except that I noticed she was more relaxed around me and had less of the guarded air she normally had. I could swear she flushed every time our eyes met. I really wanted to find a way to spend unofficial time with her but couldn’t seem to find the appropriate time or place to ask her out. But things took an interesting turn when one day, she did the inviting.

“Er…I’m going to a small place with a few friends where the greatest roasted fish in town is sold. Would you like to come? It’s tomorrow, by 8 or so.”

We had just closed for the weekend and everyone in the office was preparing to go home. I looked up at her and she stood with a carefully blank expression on her face.

“Roasted, is it? I recall the last time I had something ‘roasted’ from you. My throat is still recuperating from third degree burns. I don’t think I trust you.”

She stifled a giggle. “Haba, sir, how can you not trust me? Okay, I promise I’ll make it up to you. I’ll tell them not to put too much pepper this time.”

There was silence, she standing there waiting for an answer, me thinking about her invitation.

“Well…are you…sure?” I asked her, for more reasons than one. It was a loaded question, I knew. We both knew that we would be crossing boundaries and it would be up to her to decide. She looked at me directly and I knew then that she understood. Perhaps she had understood from the very beginning, from the moment I hired her. Maybe she even felt it, that potent pull two people have on each other every now and then. She raised one eyebrow, almost in challenge.

“Yes. I am sure.”

And so it began. We met up that weekend with a few of her friends. And we met every weekend after that. Then a few weekdays after work. We would go to places we were quite sure we wouldn’t meet our colleagues or coworkers. I found her to be an amazing woman with depth and a wicked sense of humor. She laughed easily and told me interesting stories of her life, family and friends. I felt as though I was given the privilege of being a part of her life and offered glimpses of something I had never seen. The fact that her culture and upbringing was so different from mine only made her more fascinating to me. There was also that undercurrent of intense attraction we had for each other, one that could not be denied.

There was also the stark reality that we could not ‘go public’ about what we felt for each other. It was an unspoken agreement. We knew that it was not ‘ethical’ for us to engage in a relationship, especially that I was her boss and she my subordinate. What made it even more complex was the issue of our racial differences. I was ‘white’ and she was ‘black’. It sounded so simple in theory but was a lot more complicated in practice.

For me, it was just the ‘Grahams’ of the world I needed to face. The worst I would get would be a slap-on-the-wrist reprimand professionally and a lot of winks, back-slapping and a few sordid comments from my ‘peers’ in private.

For her it was so much more complicated. She could be accused of being an ‘ashawo’, a ‘white-hunter’ dating me for what she could get and be painted as what Graham had said black women were.  And I had seen plenty of the ‘sort’ he spoke about – nubile, beautiful black young women hanging on the arms of lecherous semi-mummified white men, usually employees of large construction companies or corporations. These ladies were ready and willing to sell themselves for what they thought was a taste of the ‘good life’. I had seen plenty of those around. And Aisha was nothing like that.

But would anyone be able to see that? Or would she instantly be written off as one of ‘those ones’? She never asked me for anything. Why? I asked. I’m not with you for what I can get, she always said. I’m not one of ‘them.’

And as much as I knew how unfair that was, I had to be careful for her sake. She had much more at stake than I did. It was a matter of respect, and I had the highest respect for her and wanted her to receive it from others.

“You know, it’s going to get so much more difficult to keep this hidden as time goes by,” I said to her one day as I sat in her parlour.

“Maybe so, but I can’t afford to lose this job, Mark,” she yelled from the kitchen, her voice competing with the sounds of banging pots, crockery and sizzling meat.

“Well…what if I arranged another job for you? Would you date me in the open then?”

She popped her head out from the kitchen. “Mark, it’s more than that. I could change jobs…and you could lose interest in me. Then where would I be? I can’t hang my entire career on a promise, however well-meaning. Besides, I love this job. It’s perfect for me. You…well, they would just transfer you but me? I would get sacked.”

She wiped her hands on a towel as she came to sit next to me. I instinctively put my arm around her and pulled her close. She melted into my side, her head on my shoulder. I pressed my face into her hair and inhaled, a mixture of cooking aromas, coconut oil and perfume filling my nose. I absolutely loved that smell.

“Do you want us to split up?” I asked, knowing what her answer would be.

She made a sound with her lips, one she referred to as a hiss. “Look Mark, you’re not making this easy. I have my pride too, you know. I don’t want to be seen as some sort of Green Card hunting gold digger.”

“We don’t issue Green Cards in the UK…” I said, goading her and watching her reaction.

She pushed me away as she turned to look at me, and I could almost see her temper rising.

That’s my girl, never one to give in without a fight, I thought, smiling at her.

I had never had a girlfriend as volatile as Aisha before. I was used to diplomatic discussion; she on the other hand preferred a drag-out, say-it-all-out-in-the-open ‘talk’. Well, she called it ‘talking’ while I, on the other hand, euphemistically referred to it as ‘shrieking, crying and cussing’. Semantics, Mark, she would say. To-mah-to, to-may-to.

“If you want to break up with me then go ahead. I can live without you,” she said, and I began to chuckle.

Hah. Wonderful. She loves me.

And so we continued this cat-and-mouse game, and I found it harder to let go of her with each passing day. It was getting more difficult not to slip up at the office, not to touch her or steal a kiss during office hours when I thought no one was looking.

“Mark…someone will see,” she said one day when I kissed her as she bent over to hand me some files in my office, while we were alone. I was sure we were alone because I had checked.

“I’ll just say you were…err, choking and I was attempting to resuscitate you,” I said. She was not amused.

I became more severe with her at work and was exactly the opposite in private. She threatened to break up with me many times but I could see in her eyes that she wasn’t serious about it. She wanted to be with me and I wanted to be with her. We loved each other but none of us was willing to be the first to admit it. Admission would signal change and I was not sure either of us would be ready for that.

But as I stood in front of her door one evening, after a particularly trying day I realized that, as my American friends would say, ‘something’s gotta give’. It was high time for drastic change. I had upset her that day, sending her on wild goose chase errands, making her come along with me on some tedious meeting at the Hilton and I practically dismissed her afterwards. She would not be happy to see me. I had decided to get her prawns, her favourite nibble, as some sort of ‘peace’ offering. I hoped she would at least talk to me. I knocked on her door and she opened it, glaring at me.

Even with her makeup scrubbed off, face scrunched in disapproval, hairnet on her head and a wearing a large, amoeboid boubou, she was gorgeous.

“So…how was your day at work?” I asked her, almost nonchalantly. I knew what her reaction would be.

After going through our usual cat-and-mouse game, we both relented and I tipped my head down to kiss her. I had made a decision earlier on in the day and I would tell her about it.

I would resign from my present working place and transfer elsewhere. I had been testing the waters for a few months and had gotten an offer in another multinational corporation that would require me to shuttle between Lagos and Abuja.

It would mean that I would have to be away from Aisha for some time but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. Then she would be able to continue working where she wanted to and we would be free to pursue our relationship in the open. I was serious enough about her to be ready to make such a drastic change. I loved her enough to do that. I was sure things would work out and that Aisha and I would have a future together. And to blazes with all the ‘Grahams’ around.

THE END

Written by Sifa Asani Gowonlove

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18 Comments

  1. Edeeth

     /  October 30, 2013

    *Sniff…. Sniff*
    Love nwantinti!!
    Sifa, this is so nice….. I absolutely love it..

    Reply
  2. consyspark

     /  October 30, 2013

    why do i have.a funny feeling abt this????? cnt wait for prt3 abi na episode3. good work walter nd sifa

    Reply
  3. carsten

     /  October 30, 2013

    awww

    Reply
  4. carsten

     /  October 30, 2013

    THE END, consy. the end.

    Reply
  5. Sandie

     /  October 30, 2013

    THE END? What? No wayyy. This is such a sweet story. *sobbing,really sobbing*

    Reply
  6. john

     /  October 30, 2013

    The end how, biko I’m waiting for part 3 and 4

    Reply
  7. Abebs

     /  October 30, 2013

    Hi, where is d part 1 pls

    Reply
  8. Adeline Kasper

     /  October 30, 2013

    No o. It cant be d end. Sifa… biko, start writing, Wally wil do d posting. Lol!
    Am damn serious here oo..

    Reply
  9. louisa

     /  October 31, 2013

    Mmmm. Nice. Where’s part 1 though? I’d really love to read that.

    Reply
  10. doris

     /  October 31, 2013

    O such luv…*sobbing*

    Reply
  11. nik

     /  November 3, 2013

    What do u mean the end, sifa can’t you just pity us for once? Just give us one more episode of aisha’s side of the story after oyinbo sacrifice eh, bikonu

    Reply
  1. Sifa Is ‘Playing By Her Rules’ In Her Upcoming Novel « MY MIND SNAPS

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